breast changes after treatment

Hi I,m new to the forum so forgive me if this subject has been dealt with before. I had a lumpectomy and removal of lymph nodes in Jan and Feb of 2010 followed by 26 sessions of radiotherapy which finished in May but my breast is still quite painful to touch and very lumpy and I don’t go back to see the onc till May this year.Has anyone else had this problem? I hate to bother the BC nurses at the hosp as they are so busy but I can’t find any info on what to expect one’s breast to look/feel like so long after surgery. Hope you can help!

The usual changes to the breast after radiation is that it becomes firmer. The scar area after removal of lymph nodes can be tender. I wouldn’t worry about ‘bothering the nurses’ - that’s what they’re there for - to offer advice and answer your concerns. If something is worrying you then go and see them and put your mind at rest.

Best wishes,

Hi Arlibop I too had similar surgery WLE and ANC May and re excision for better margins in June preceded by chemo. Then rads finishing in Sept 2010. During the rads well after the 1st one I had a return of the shooting nerve jangling sensations I had had after surgery. Then my breast got softer, smaller, changed shape a little and got a bit lumpy too.I did ring my BCN on NYE and she is arranging a u/s for me. I do have an appt with Onc at the end of this month but she said an u/s would put my mind at rest. Yes I know they are very busy and I held off ringing for about 3 weeks. So as Alex also said do give her a ring, and esp as your appt is not until May.Best Wishes Jackie xx

Hi arlibop. I am in the same position as yourself. At the moment I have lumpy painful breast. I had lumpectomy in June last year followed by 20 rads sessions finishing in September 2010. Following treatment my breast is still painful & enlarged with an orange peel effect. The most worrying thing for me was that I discovered another lump. I phoned my BC nurse a couple of weeks ago who immediately spoke to my consultant (as breast clinic was taking place that day) and same day I was asked to go in to see them. Following examination by consultant he referred me for ultrasound. To my delight this all happended same day and I was told there and then by my radiologist that what I was feeling was post operative change & that nothing sinister was happening. The relief was overwhelming and immediately a weight was lifted as I was imagining all sorts.

PLEASE get in touch with your BC nurse as you are certainly not “bothering” them. Each person’s experience is different but I would urge you to get in touch to ease your mind. My BC nurses have been amazing - let yours amaze you too - but they can only do that if you ask them!

Hope this helps, best wishes x


I had a WLE nearly 3 years ago and can identify with all that you are saying. It was sore and ‘lumpy’ for at least 2 years until last year an egg size lump appeared overnight! After contacting the BCN I was given an urgent appointment at the breast clinic where I had a biopsy which showed an abcess and scar tissue.

Please don’t worry unduly. We are often lumpy and sore after a WLE for quite a while. In fact I don’t think we’ll ever go back to ‘normal’, it’s just that we don’t notice it after a while and we learn to live with it. Nearly three years on and my underarm is still a little numb and my boob is still lumpy but I’ve learned to live with it.

Having said that, if you’re worried don’t hesitate to call your BCN. That’s what they’re there for.

Mal x

I was told it can take a couple of years to recover from the surgery, rads, etc. I am about 15 month on and mine still hurts if I do any lifting. However, as others have said, if it is worrying you, ask.

Ann x

Just reading these comments has put my own mind at rest. I am due my first mammogram after last years lumpectomy and radiation next month. However my breast is still very sore and though I am not relishing the discomfort of the mammogram I now know the soreness is not uncommon. This is the first posting I have made but your forum provided a guiding light during the dark days!

I am just over 4 years down the line and still ache where I had surgery. It took until year 3 for the lumpy denseness caused by the radiotherapy to go. When I feel really achy I resort to a sports bra and find supportive vests helpful in bed.

picklepuss - Just to warn you, I found my first post-surgery mammogram to be very painful. I don’t have large breasts, which may be the reason I have always found mammograms uncomfortable but this one was much worse. I would suggest you take a painkiller beforehand. Other ladies say they have been fine, so maybe it is just me but it is something to bear in mind.

Ann x

I find with my mammos, it’s the scar that’s the worst. Mine is on a bit of an awkward spot on the outer edge and I can’t wear underwired bras as the wire rubs and irritates. I also have to be careful with anything lacy as this can also irritate. 4 years on from rads, my breast is still a different shade, quite pink and mottled looking.

Thanks for the tip, Ann. I have small boobs and find mammograms hurt so shall take a painkiller when time comes. Wish I’d thought to do this before bc!

Hi all Thank you so much for your replies and support, sorry it’s taken so long to reply but have been having problems with our internet.It’s a relief to hear so many of you have had similar reactions to this sort of thing,thank god I found this forum!

I went to the doctors to see if she could give me a verdict and she has referred me to the breast clinic and I have an app next week so will keep you posted on that. I too find I can’t wear underwired bras as they leave deep indentations on my breast just below my cleavage. I do have big breasts and can’t find any bras that are comfortable, sports bras tend not to come in a 40E!

Thanks again for your replies and support